Bollywood Stars against Sexism in the Media


Published:  23 September 2014

Country: India

Deepika_PadukoneOne of the leading Bollywood actresses, Deepika Padukone, stood up against Times of India and widespread sexism in the media. Times of India tweeted about Padukone’s cleavage and soon after the actress replied: “Yes, I am a woman and I have breasts and a cleavage. You got a problem”?

Padukone’s words were retweeted several thousand times and her stance against sexism caused Indian newspaper, not to issue an apology, but to delete the comment stating it was meant to be a compliment. India, reports Huffington Post, is the worst place in the world to be a woman and “it is becoming increasingly important that Bollywood stars – who are viewed as virtual gods by the masses – take these issues head on”.

Padukone addressed the issue of sexism and objectification of women in the media asking for the respect “in a time where women should be applauded for making headway in a male-dominated society”.  “I have spoken out against an ideology that such regressive tactics are still being employed to draw a reader’s attention at a time when we are striving for women’s equality and empowerment”, wrote Padukone on social media.

But Padukone is just the latest Bollywood actress to clash with the media, reports BBC. Last October, India (and indeed the world) was transfixed by a video of Mallika Sherawat’s heated exchange with a female reporter at a press conference where the actress refused to retract her statement that “Indian society is regressive for women”.

Sherawat was in India to launch her show hen the reporter questioned whether Sherawat was right to criticise India in an interview with US magazine Vanity Fair by calling “India regressive and depressing”. An angry Sherawat took on the reporter, saying she was “not going to lie” or “join this hypocrisy that is there in our society”.

“With female foeticide, infanticide happening on an almost daily basis; with gang rapes making the headlines of almost every newspaper; with honour killings… I think it’s a very, very regressive state for women. And I stand by it,” she said.

Another Indian actress Parineeti Chopra clashed with the reporter who asked her why “when girls are young, they like ‘it’ and when they get old, they start shouting and screaming that the boy exploited them”. A visibly annoyed Chopra asked the reporter what he meant by “it”.

Commenting on Bollywood stars standing up against sexism, BBC online reports that “it is nothing new that actresses and celebrities around the world are regularly portrayed as mere body parts… Sections of the media have long seen celebrities as fair game with regular reports about Britney Spears piling on the pounds; Lindsay Lohan has variously been described as fat and frumpy or super skinny, for example”.

“Sometimes the celebrity in question will lash out on Twitter, libellous material will attract lawsuits and at other times the celebrity will simply ignore the coverage, but we rarely hear about the stand-up rows between the media and celebrities that have been seen in India”.

According to the BBC, Bollywood is protesting more than ever since in recent years, the spotlight has been on how India treats its women and the country’s patriarchal system.